As technology connects people across the world, more companies have expanded internationally. Markets are now globally interconnected and the demand for popular goods and services is measured across several countries at once. In fact, the International Monetary Fund indicates the real GDP growth worldwide is 3.9%, with emerging and developing markets experiencing a 4.9% growth rate. With advanced economies hovering at a 2.5% growth rate, it makes sense for businesses of all sizes to tap emerging markets for new growth possibilities.
However, this strategy presents a few challenges. Varying laws and cultural norms can make global expansion risky, while solving for costs, currency, and supply-chain logistics increases the difficulty. International business programs prepare graduates to understand these cultural, legal, and ethical differences between nations as well as their effect on a company's bottom line.
Graduates of a bachelor's in international business program go on to work in marketing, management analysis, trade, compliance, or sales, and often travel to the countries in which their employers operate. As more companies look overseas to gain an advantage, now is a terrific time to earn a bachelor's degree in international business.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in International Business?
Earning a bachelor's degree in international business takes full-time students around four years, while part-time learners may require five or six years to earn their degree. Students also have the option of several different delivery methods to suit their needs. Nontraditional degree candidates, for example, may need the flexibility and convenience of online learning, while those who recently finished high school may fare best in on-campus programs.
Students enrolled in traditional programs typically have fewer family and work commitments, and on-campus degrees provide many in-person programs and resources. For instance, students can join groups that facilitate personal growth and networking, while also developing relationships with their professors -- many of whom are practicing business professionals with their own extensive connections. Additionally, students can participate in vigorous live discussions and get their questions answered in real-time.
As graduation nears, on-campus degree candidates can study overseas for numerous study-abroad opportunities, or take on internships that provide real-world experience and chances to develop connections. Employers with international presences -- or who are looking for international opportunities in the future -- recognize the value that this specialized degree can bring to the company. While the particulars of each program differs, a student with an international business bachelor's degree learns management theories, marketing strategies, global supply chains, and communications. In these courses, students gain critical-thinking skills, presentation abilities, and develop a personal management style.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in International Business?
Graduates of a bachelor's degree in international business can manage several different areas of global business. Those with a creative streak may enjoy marketing; learners with knacks for analysis and data may find careers as management analysts; and students interested in the complexities of trade may pursue careers as trade compliance managers or trade specialists. Meanwhile, graduates who are naturals in sales can expand their talents and become international trade managers who specialize in certain industries and regions.
- Management Analyst
These data-driven professionals — also called "management consultants"— improve efficiency in their organizations. They coach other managers to be more effective, reduce costs, and bring in more money. Because these professionals who oversee qualified managers, it is important they have at least a bachelor's degree in business.
Median Annual Salary: $82,450*
- International Sales Manager
These managers oversee the exports of a company to countries around the world. They locate opportunities to expand into new territories and review market trends to predict success. International sales managers must also ensure that products are delivered to customers on time and without problems.
Median Annual Salary: $76,684*
- International Trade Specialist
These respected economists help companies strategically expand into new countries, and develop a comprehensive understanding of the countries in which they specialize. Because so much hinges on their work, employers expect these candidates to hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $59,137*
- International Trade Compliance Manager
Trade agreements and laws can be complicated, so international companies hire specialized professionals guide them. Trade compliance managers intimately know these laws and ensure that their employers conduct trades by the books. Many companies prefer to hire people with bachelor's degrees for these positions.
Median Annual Salary: $85,001*
- International Marketing Manager
These marketing experts can effectively translate their campaigns across physical, linguistic, and cultural barriers. They adjust their approaches based on what sells within a country. Since this position requires specialized knowledge, many companies require international marketing managers to have relevant bachelor's degrees.
Median Annual Salary: $72,106*
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in International Business
Choosing the right school to earn your bachelor of international business is the first step in your journey. Degree candidates should consider whether distance education, on-campus learning, or a blended format best suits their needs. Blended programs may be primarily online, feature in-person requirements like internships.
Another significant factor to consider is the cost of an international business program. Tuition varies widely among schools, however learners should factor in other related costs, such as commuting, books, computers, housing, and food. All of these form a more accurate picture of the cost of your higher education. Additionally, students may wish to prioritize public, in-state institutions, which often have lower tuition rates than private and/or out-of-state schools.
Another important consideration for students is the quality of a program. For example, a degree that is accredited both institutionally and programmatically means it is worth more to students and their potential employers. Similarly, students should make sure a program's curriculum offers courses that prepare them for their intended careers. Those who want to manage international marketing campaigns, for example, should find a program that offers plenty of marketing courses.
A school's location is also an important consideration. An institution's surrounding area affects how much an in-person learner pays for housing and other necessities. Students wanting to gain real-world experience may prefer universities in cities with plenty of large corporations. Finally, learners looking to graduate quickly should select institutions that offer accelerated courses or summer classes.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in International Business
Institutional accreditation ensures that a school meets strict academic standards, while a programmatic accreditation reviews individual degrees or schools within an institution. Usually, agencies that specialize in a particular subject area offer these credentials. Business schools, for instance, are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
To gain these distinctions, programs must prove that they adequately prepare students for careers in international business. Learners who choose accredited programs can see the benefits throughout their courses and in their careers. Degree candidates planning to earn their MBAs should only consider programs with proper credentials. Many MBA programs only accept students who have bachelor's degrees from accredited programs. Moreover, accredited programs give students more flexibility to transfer between universities, and many business schools only accept transfer credits from similarly accredited programs.
Bachelor's in International Business Program Admissions
While admissions to online international business programs tend to be quite involved, students applying to on-campus programs do not complete as many steps. Applicants should first decide how many applications to send, as the costs begin to add up. Many schools charge application fees of about $50, although some institutions charge as much as $90. With this in mind, candidates should set a budget for their college applications, and then rank schools according to which they would prefer to attend.
Finally, candidates should apply to as many schools as they can reasonably afford, starting with their favorites. Note that some students with financial difficulties can obtain waivers for the application fees. No matter how many institutions learners apply to, however, they should expect to send similar documentation to each.
- Minimum GPA: Many universities expect applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in high school. However, high test scores or improved GPA in a community college can negate this prerequisite.
- Application: Each application takes about an hour to complete, however it may take longer for institutions that require essays. The Common App may reduce this time significantly, as it sends applications to several participating schools at once.
- Transcripts: Institutions require students to send transcripts from every high school and college they previously attended. Many high schools offer these documents for free, but students should prepare to pay a small fee for transcripts from higher learning institutions.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants should obtain two or three letters of recommendation from people who can speak to their academic rigor or work ethic. This may include managers, teachers, and school counselors; students should not get these letters from friends or family members.
- Test Scores: Schools expect applicants to submit scores from the SAT, ACT, or both. Testing centers send the results directly to the schools.
- Application Fee: Most institutions charge application fees to cover the cost of processing. Students who demonstrate they have financial difficulties may be eligible for waivers at each school.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in International Business?
Bachelor's programs in international business vary in their offerings, including the classes, length, and cost, and applicants should thoroughly research individual institutions before applying. However, there are several common factors that most students can expect to encounter. Below are some typical courses offered in international business programs.
Courses in a Bachelor's in International Business Program
Although coursework is specific to each university, there are several common classes that learners take to earn their bachelor's degree in international business. In addition to the core college courses, these learners study areas like business law, international operations, trade agreements, international marketing, and global financial management.
- International Business Law
Students in this course gain a foundational understanding of the laws that govern businesses in the United States and around the world. Learners study employment, trade, and finance law, and some universities teach ethics in the same courses.
- Global Industries and Operations
This course explores how current industries operate profitably around the globe. Learners also study management strategies for these companies.
- International Trade Agreements
Trade agreements between governments dictate much of what international companies can do. As such, business students must understand current agreements, their effect on operations, and how to change operations based on the evolving political climate.
- International Marketing
Marketing that works in one country may not translate well in another, even when it is for the same product. Students in these classes learn to navigate cultural and linguistic differences to create successful marketing campaigns around the world.
- Global Financial Management
As the world becomes increasingly connected, so do its finances. This courses introduces students to money management in different currencies, and how to comply with laws and ethical standards. Learners receive a basic understanding of international stock trading and investing.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in International Business?
Students can earn their bachelor's in international business in about four years, however several factors may change this plan. For example, those with associate degrees from accredited schools may only need two years to earn their bachelor's. Similarly, students who take summer courses or choose programs with accelerated coursework may finish within three years.
Part-time learners may take longer to complete their degree than their full-time counterparts, but they can reduce their timeline by taking classes over summer and winter semesters. Degree candidates complete approximately 120 credit hours of courses to earn a bachelor's in international business. Students may also take CLEP and other standardized tests to remove some of these credits from their requirements.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in International Business?
Students should calculate the total cost of attendance before choosing a program. While these costs vary widely between schools, learners can estimate tuition costs based on averages from the College Board. Students who attend public universities within their states of residence pay an average of $9,970 per year in tuition and fees. Out-of-state public schools charge roughly $25,620, and private, nonprofit universities charge $34,740 annually. While tuition comprises a significant portion of the price of earning a bachelor's in international business, it is not the only factor to consider. Students should also note the cost of books, computers, and software programs.
Furthermore, students should account for the cost of living near their university. Degree candidates who attend universities in densely populated areas may find that housing is much more expensive than their peers in suburban areas. Similarly, food and other necessities cost more in some areas of the country. Whether students take public transportation or drive themselves, they should also consider the costs to commute to campus.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in International Business Prepares For
- Certified International Trade Professional
The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) offers this globally recognized certification to those who complete their online coursework and have at least one year of international business experience. FITT also provides the opportunity to join the organization and benefit from continuing education.
- Certification of Competency in Business Analysis
The International Institute of Business Analysis gives this credential to business professionals with at least 3,750 hours of business analysis experience. Candidates must also complete 21 hours of professional development within four years and provide references who can attest to their work ethic and business acumen.
- Certified Business Process Associate
The Association of Business Process Management Professionals International provides a certification program for process managers with degrees from accredited universities, and at least 1,250 hours of real-world experience. Candidates can take the exam to prove their understanding of best practices. The exam costs $440 between the registration and exam fees.
Resources for International Business Students
This organization provides international business students with opportunities for internships and entry-level positions in countries throughout the world. It also publishes career guides to help new professionals get started.
Public speaking is often a necessary skill for business professionals. This organization helps students and established professionals give inspiring and rousing speeches.
This renowned magazine features reporting from around the world that business students and professionals need to know. Readers learn how the biggest news stories of the day may affect trade and business.
Volunteer work can look great on any resume, especially for new graduates. Moving Worlds offers business-related volunteer opportunities that give students an opportunity to make a social impact in countries around the world.
New research can guide degree candidates and professionals through their work and help them stay at the cutting edge. This open access journal contains the most up-to-date studies and data on business practices.
Professional Organizations in International Business
Professional organizations help students and graduates further their careers in exciting ways. Many associations have exclusive job boards and networking opportunities that allow new professionals to land a great first job. Members can also attend annual conferences and take advantage of continuing education offerings. Many of these organizations also provide certifications that can set members apart from the competition in a stack of resumes.